Prayer vigils planned ahead of synod

This is the official logo for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Originally scheduled for 2022, the synod will take place in October 2023 to allow for broader consultation at the diocesan, national and regional levels. (CNS Photo courtesy of Synod of Bishops)

The public is invited to join in prayer with Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre Sept. 30 in preparation for the upcoming Synod on Synodality. 

The special prayer vigil will ask for “the Holy Spirit’s guidance upon the Synod of Bishops as they discern the will of God for how to accomplish the mission of our Church in the third millennium,” said Richard “Tink” Guthrie in an Aug. 28 letter to priests. Guthrie is vice chancellor and synod coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The local vigil will begin at 6 p.m. at Holy Spirit Church, 3345 Lexington Road, after the 5 p.m. Mass. Participants are encouraged to attend both the Mass and the vigil or the vigil alone. 

The prayer service will be one of many held around the world in solidarity with an ecumenical prayer vigil planned in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican ahead of the Oct. 4 to 29 synod. Afterward, synod participants — bishops, clergy, religious and laity — will begin a three-day retreat.

During the synod, participants will be reflecting with Pope Francis on information shared by Catholics and others around the world beginning in 2021. Pope Francis had asked people to share their experiences and vision of the church. 

Nearly 2,400 people in the Archdiocese of Louisville responded to Pope Francis’ invitation by taking part in listening sessions and submitting their thoughts online in the spring of 2022. 

Guthrie expressed hope that people who participated would also attend the vigil.

“It’s our local opportunity for a continuation of the journeying together that began in 2022,” Guthrie said. “The synod is all about journeying together and this is the next opportunity to see this in a tangible way.”

The listening sessions provided “both an unprecedented opportunity and an unprecedented response from the faithful,” he said. “A number of times people who participated said, ‘What will happen with this listening?’ ” 

The joys and challenges shared in the local sessions were combined with others around the country and North America and forwarded to the Vatican. These reports, gathered from around the world, were ultimately compiled into a working document for the synod to consider.

“It’s our local opportunity for a continuation of the journeying together that began in 2022. The synod is all about journeying together and this is the next opportunity to see this in a tangible way.”

Richard “Tink” Guthrie, vice chancellor and local synod coordinator

“What manifests from that, only the Holy Spirit knows,” said Guthrie.

Speaking to journalists Aug. 26, Pope Francis explained what synodality means for the church.

The Catholic Church, he said, is “trying to learn a new way of living relationships, listening to one another in order to hear and follow the voice of the Spirit.”

“We have opened our doors, we have offered everyone the opportunity to participate, we have taken into account everyone’s needs and suggestions,” he said. “We want to contribute together to building a church where everyone feels at home, where no one is excluded.”

The church is for everyone, he said. “There are no first-, second- or third-class Catholics, no. All together. Everyone. It is the Lord’s invitation.”

Noting that the synod was originally set to conclude with the October gathering, Guthrie said that an additional session was added. It is planned for October 2024.

Pope Francis has said the “process can’t be rushed and the Spirit can’t be rushed,” Guthrie added.

Marnie McAllister
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Marnie McAllister
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